Watercolour pencils differ greatly from non-watercolour pencils. The difference is in the binder that holds the pigment. Whereas normal coloured pencils have a waxy or oil based binder, watercolour pencils have a water-soluble binder offering a wide variety of application from dry to wet. Once the colour has been laid down and water added, the vivid and vibrant hues are released, dissolving into beautiful washes or deep areas of colour.
Watercolour pencils are one of the most versatile mediums for illustrators, urban sketchers, designers, fashion designers and painters. They are also a perfect medium to use for mixed media studies. They are an excellent medium for beginners, amateurs and Professionals!
They enable draughtsmanship quality detail with the subtleties of watercolour when used in washes, or they can provide a kaleidoscope of vivid and bold colours dry or wet when layered. They can maintain the luminosity of watercolours whilst also providing an optional opaque quality.
They are portable, versatile and convenient, clean and easy to use indoors and outdoors. They are immediate with no prior preperation needed other than some watercolour paper (any paper above 90gsm in weight) a sharpener, a clean brush and a little water. They are easier to use, control and handle than just brushes and paint.
Artists and designers can use them wet and dry or combine them with other mediums such as;
DO Use quality named brands, these will have a higher pigment content.
DO Use watercolour paper for best results any paper weight over 90lbs, however the heavier the weight of paper the better the results ie; 140lbs, 300lbs. Cold press, or Hot press. (Rough can be used with a light touch) Heavier paper can carry more water.
DO use the pencils in layers, working with a soft to medium pressure to deepen an area of colour or widen an outline line of colour.
DO work lightly over your paper in one direction applying light to medium pressure keeping the pencil lines close together to create large areas of colour. Then wet using clean water and soft brush.
DO Keep your pencils sharpened for intricate details or for adding texture to your drawings.
DO Use watercolour brushes - Round and Flat sizes 2, 6 & 8. You could use a larger soft Wash/Hake brush for larger areas.
DON'T use unbranded pencils, they will have a lower pigment content, less vibrancy and dull colours when diluted.
DON'T use copy paper or any paper that is too rough or too thin or too smooth (shiny)
DON'T press too hard, this will crush the point of the pencil or leave impressions in the paper which cannot be removed. Or washed out.
DON'T press too hard or create deep cross hatching marks if you need a large wash area of colour.
DON'T press too hard as this will release too much pigment onto the paper which cannot be washed away easily.
DON'T use hard bristle brushes that could scratch the paper.
Watercolour pencil Techniques. What can you do with them?
Watercolour pencils can be used to draft out your composition lightly before committing to a concrete image.
Can provide both soft and hard edges within your image.
Can provide small details or create textures over watercolour washes.
Can provide a means to creating large or small watercolour washes semi transparent or more opaque depending how many layers of pigment you use.
Can be used with other watercolour mediums such as masking fluid.
Can be used over wet or dry inks, or used dry to create tonal gradients over gouache, acrylic.
Can be blended together on the paper before wetting to create any colour palette suitable for your theme.
Can be used to work over wet or dry washes of colour. Used over a dry wash and your pencil line will stay sharp. Used over a wet wash the pencil line will be soft and diffused.
The top of the range watercolour pencils are lightfast and permanent and sets can be bought with a multitude of vivid pigments. (Caran D’ache offer 120 different colours)
Most branded watercolour pencils have a strong lead core that doesn’t break easily.
Can be dipped into water before application onto paper for a very pigmented line.
Can be used dry on paper without wetting to create a dry drawing.
Can be used on wet paper to create a very soft line.